The ancient Ilkal sarees with unique design which used to be crafted handlooms weavers of a little town of IIkal in Bagalkot district the switch over to powerloom has endangered the livelihood of small handloom weavers.
IIkal town had around five thousand handlooms that used to craft traditional sarees more than a decade ago. Now, the number of families engaged in making beautiful hand-woven sarees has reduced to just 500 with the onslaught of power looms.
The transition from handloom to powerloom has affected the quality of famous â€˜Ilkal sareesâ€™ which has been accorded Geographical Indication tag.
The weavers of the modern generation make use of power looms as they are finding it earn their livelihood than by doing it manually.
The sarees woven with the powerloom have flooded the market. Bagalkot and Gadag districts are the epicenter of weaving activities at present.
Power looms can produce 3-4 sarees every day, while handloom weavers are bearly able to craft one saree. Hand-woven sarees get a price of more than Rs 10,000 owing to their durability and unique design. But, production of cheap clothes by power looms has put at risk the livelihood of handloom weavers.
According to Ilkal Handloom and Powerloom Weavers Agitation Committee general secretary Ashok Shavi, the new weavers are opting for powerlooms as it is a question of survival though it produces cheap and inferior sarees.
However, it is difficult for poor handloom weavers to shift to the power loom which costs more than 60,000 per unit.
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